3 Common Questions New Amputees Ask

Posted on: August 16th, 2017 by JPO Blogger

 

 

It’s never easy to adjust to life as an amputee. Even with a phenomenal health care team and an army of friends and family to support you, you will still be faced with many challenges, struggles and questions as you start your journey.

Today, JP&O Prosthetic & Orthotic Lab is here to clear up three common points of confusion for new amputees:

  • Prosthesis, prostheses, prosthetist—I thought it all referred to prosthetics?

 

The words we use to describe manufactured body parts come from Latin words, so they have some funny endings! A prosthesis is the singular noun that means “artificial body part.” The word prostheses is the plural of that word. A prosthetist is the clinician who will fit and fashion for you your prosthesis.

 

“Prosthetic” is an adjective to describe which limb is artificial. So, you could say “that’s a prosthetic leg,” but you wouldn’t say, “She wears a prosthetic,” without following up with which body part is a prosthesis.

 

  • When will I get to wear my prosthesis?

 

This all depends on your recovery time after surgery, but in general, you will have a temporary prosthesis a few weeks after the operation. For the next few months, your focus will be on healing. Once that has happened and any inflammation or swelling has subsided, we will fit you for a custom prosthesis.

 

Even then, it may be a while before you wear your prosthesis full time. You will need to learn how to perform day to day operations with it, which means undergoing several weeks or months of physical therapy.

 

  • I’ve heard of phantom limb pain. Will I get this?

It’s estimated that 80 percent of all amputees worldwide will deal with phantom limb pain at some point.  Some people feel like they are crazy for experiencing it, but this couldn’t be further from the truth!

 

There are a number of different ways to combat phantom limb pain. Some of them include identifying what triggers your phantom limb pain and having a plan in place to counter it when it happens. Other methods include mirror box therapy, where you trick your mind into believing the limb is still there.

These are just a few of the common questions we receive from our patients. You can also check out our patient resources center. If you can’t find an answer to your question, you can always make an appointment with us to learn more about what to expect as a new amputee!

4 Basic Components of Prosthetic Legs

Posted on: August 2nd, 2017 by JPO Blogger

get around to intricate microprocessor knees, we’re truly living in wondrous times.

Today, JP&O Prosthetic & Orthotic Lab would like to break down the individual parts of a prosthetic leg and help you understand better how all the components work together:

  • The Socket.

 

This is the part of the prosthesis that connects it to your residual limb. The type of design and the materials used can vary based on whether you’re an above-the-knee or below-the-knee amputee. Your prosthetist may also change your socket at various times, depending on how your body changes.

 

  • The Limb.

 

This term can be confusing, as we often refer to “residual limbs” or “sound limbs,” but when it comes to prosthetic legs, this means the largest part of the prosthesis. Most are modeled after your sound limb, but for serious athletes, the limb can be a variety of non-human looking shapes.

 

 

If you are an above-the-knee amputee, you will need a prosthetic knee that allows you to regain a natural-looking gait. The most sophisticated kinds include the microprocessor knee, which has a small computer inside of it that gathers information about how you are walking and what your environment is like. It then adjusts how it responds accordingly.

 

 

What kind of prosthetic feet you wear depends on the level of activity you engage in. For those who won’t be doing a lot of walking, a solid ankle cushioned heel (SACH) is a good option. A dynamic-response foot is good for those who want to engage in moderate to high activity. For those who will often find themselves on uneven surfaces, a microprocessor foot (which is similar to the microprocessor knee) is ideal.

 

Each of these components have many different options to accompany them, all meant to allow the user to live their desired lifestyle. Make an appointment with us today if you want to explore your options when it comes to your lower-limb prosthesis.

5 Reasons Why Your Residual Limb Hurts

Posted on: July 23rd, 2017 by JPO Blogger

It’s expected that anyone who undergoes an amputation will experience pain after the procedure. However, some people experience pain in their residual limb even after they have healed. Here are five reasons why this may be happening to you:

  • Pre-existing condition

Health conditions such as diabetes or poor circulation that led to your amputation can still be an issue even after the limb is removed. Make sure that you are following the health guidelines set forth by your doctor to manage symptoms.

  • Bone Spur

Sometimes, extra bone material can form abnormally at the end of your residual limb. This bone spur or heterotropic bone can cause your prosthesis to not fit properly, and thus cause pain.

  • Poor tissue coverage

It’s normal to have pain after your surgery. However, if the bone at the end of your residual limb hasn’t been trimmed properly, this can cause you to experience pain while wearing your prosthesis. Try wearing extra padding at the end of your limb. If that doesn’t work, additional surgery may be required.

  • Neuroma

The nerves at the end of your residual limb form a bundle under your skin known as a neuroma. This collection of nerve endings can be very sensitive, and if they press up against the prosthesis, it can lead to serious pain. There are a number of ways to decrease it, including medication, massage, ultrasound and more. Your doctor should be able to come up with a plan to address it.

  • Nerves caught in scar tissue

This can happen as you start to heal from amputation. Wrapping your residual limb with elastic can help prevent this from happening. When your incision is at a certain healing point, you should also start massaging it to keep the nerves from being caught in scar tissue.

Besides the tips listed above, there are a number of other things you can do to prevent your residual limb from hurting. Follow the exercises your physical therapist gives you, practice desensitizing methods and work on relaxation. If pain still persists, set up an appointment with your doctor to find a treatment that works with you.

4 Things to Consider When You’re a Pregnant Amputee

Posted on: July 16th, 2017 by JPO Blogger

Having a baby is an exciting time in any woman’s life, but if you’re an amputee, you could face some additional challenges. Luckily, with proper planning, you can continue to live a healthy, active life throughout your pregnancy. Jonesboro Prosthetic & Orthotic Laboratory offers these 4 things to consider when you’re a pregnant amputee:

  • Prosthesis Fit.

This is perhaps the biggest challenge pregnant amputees face! A woman’s weight will change drastically throughout her pregnancy, and as we all know, weight fluctuation does affect how your prosthesis fits.

While you will need to visit your prosthetist to have adjustments made, there are a few things you can do to maintain a healthy weight. There’s a popular myth that pregnant women are eating for two; in fact, a woman will only need an additional 300 calories a day to grow her little one!

Another thing to consider is the type of exercise you do. Doing something gentle will fight fatigue, back pain and will help you from gaining too much weight. Activities such as swimming and walking are ideal.

  • Regular Visits.

Since your prosthesis’ fit will change during the pregnancy, make sure that you schedule regular visits with your prosthetist. This is especially true during the second and third trimesters, when you’ll experience more swelling in your limbs. Your prosthetist may even create a temporary socket to accommodate dramatic changes.

If you are an above-the-knee amputee, you will need even more modifications than others. This is due to the presence of more soft tissue in your residual limb.

  • During Labor.

One thing you will need to decide is whether you will wear your prosthesis during labor. Walking a little during the early part of labor can speed up dilation, and it could give you the support you need to bear down while giving birth.

  • After birth.

Your weight will again change drastically after you give birth, especially if you breastfeed! It may be hard to make visits to your prosthetist once you’re caring for a little one, so there may be times when you are using crutches to get around. Invest in a baby sling so you can still carry your baby while using them.

 

Your amputation does not affect your ability to give birth to a healthy child. While you may face some physical challenges that other women don’t have during pregnancy, that doesn’t change your ability to be a good mom. If you’re pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant, remember to set up an appointment with  Jonesboro Prosthetic & Orthotic Laboratory to make sure your prosthesis continues to fit as it should!

Summer Swimming and Prostheses

Posted on: June 9th, 2017 by JPO Blogger

Summertime means paradise and pools.  However, having a prosthesis can make going to the warm sandy beaches or public pool a daunting task.  That’s why we wanted to offer these helpful tips and steps to help make your summer swimming peaceful and soothing!

  • Go with friends: Going anywhere with friends will always make you feel more comfortable and makes the environment that you’re in less intimidating.  Your friends are there to support you, so you will have a strong system in place thanks to them when attempting to walk through the sand or get into the pool.
  • Understand your device: It is imperative that you know what your prosthesis is capable of and what its limits are.  Talk to your prosthetist to know if your device can be used in sand or if a waterproof one meant for aquatic activity is available.  They will know what the correct plan of action is for your limb because they have worked with you and know how your body responds to your prosthesis.
  • Wear what you want: It’s important that you feel comfortable in your own skin when on the beach or in a pool.  Pick what you want to wear and go with it.  It doesn’t matter what you’re in as long as you are happy, so wear a long flowy dress or just sport a swim suit if you’d like!  Feeling confident will help you take on any challenges that may present themselves.
  • Be prepared: It’s crucial that you bring all the supplies you’ll need so that your summer fun isn’t stressful.  For example, make sure to pack sunscreen because if the tender skin on your residual limb burns, it’ll make wearing the prosthesis uncomfortable and difficult to wear.  Be prepared for a few challenges along the way.  Walking in sand with divots is no easy task, so make sure your balance and coordination are in full swing when trekking across the beach.
  • Enjoy Yourself: After making it to your perfect spot on the beach or into the pool, be sure to let go and relax. Be proud of your accomplishment this summer and enjoy the serenity given to you by your piece of paradise!

We hope that these tidbits of information will help you enjoy your summer swimming!  If you have any questions or want to know more about what you can do to prepare your prosthesis for the exciting summer activities ahead, contact us today!

Tips to Camping When You’re an Amputee

Posted on: June 2nd, 2017 by JPO Blogger

With the warmer weather here, it’s now time to be out and about!  One of the ways to enjoy this summer is by going camping in the great outdoors.  When you’re an amputee, it’s important to come prepared and well equipped.  That’s why we came up with the following tips:

  1. Check With Your Prosthetist

Camping can require a lot of activity depending on where you go, so it’s important to know if your prosthesis can handle that amount of action.  You’ll want to talk to your prosthetist to make sure that all parts are intact and will be working smoothly so you don’t run into any problems while exploring.

 

  1. Carry The Right Socks

Bringing and wearing the correct socks is crucial to your comfort.  High activity can cause unwanted stress on your residual limb if you wear socks that don’t absorb sweat, so wool or synthetic fibers work great for wicking away moisture.  As you hike, friction will occur as temperature and sweat levels increase, causing chafing, skin irritation, and blisters.  New pressure points may present themselves because they aren’t stressed during normal daily activities, so it’s imperative that you pick the right socks to aid in your contentment.

 

  1. Bring Trekking/Hiking Poles

Hiking poles will help you maintain your balance as you make the trek through the wilderness.  They will help relieve the stress on your limb and the rest of your body.

 

  1. Wear Proper Foot Wear

Wearing supportive, lightweight shoes can help reduce some of the shock to the body when hiking to your camping spot.  Discussing this with your prosthetist about what they recommend can help you get started with what shoes to choose.

 

  1. Pack Light

Any extra weight on your body will already begin to place stress on it, so it’s important to only bring the essentials.  However, make sure to bring tape, extra socks and liners, and plastic bags to put around your prosthesis when near sand or water.

 

  1. Protect Your Prosthesis

Make sure that your prosthesis is inside the tent or indoors, so it doesn’t get damaged by dew.  If there won’t be a roof over your head, bring a tarp or plastic bag to protect your prosthesis from the elements.

We hope that these tips will help make your camping experience more enjoyable and diminish any possible problems that could occur.  If you have any other questions, contact us so we can help prepare you for your adventure!

Diabetes and Amputation: What You Should Know

Posted on: May 12th, 2017 by JPO Blogger

In 2010, 73,000 people over the age of 20 underwent amputation due to complications from diabetes. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, foot care and proper management of your blood sugar levels can significantly reduce your chances of having an amputation in the lower leg, foot or toes.

By following the foot care instructions below, those who live with diabetes can significantly lower their chances of an amputation:

 

  • Check your feet regularly for blisters, swelling, bruises, and redness
  • To get a closer look at your feet, use a magnifying glass
  • Use a feather or other light object to check for sensation in your feet
  • Ask a loved one or a friend to examine your feet
  • Discover if your feet can feel the difference between warm and cold temperatures
  • Wear diabetic shoes and socks to ensure circulation

 

When managing your blood sugar levels, the following steps can help you avoid complications caused by diabetes:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Check your blood sugar regularly
  • Exercise
  • Take your insulin and other diabetic medications as instructed by your physician

 

At Jonesboro, we have a wide selection of diabetic foot care and blood sugar testing supplies available to help you maintain the health of your lower limbs and prevent your chance of amputation caused by major diabetic complications.

I Woke Up and My Prosthesis Doesn’t Fit – Now What?

Posted on: May 5th, 2017 by JPO Blogger

As a new amputee, you will face a number of hurdles when it comes to learning how to use your prosthesis. One of the more common problems is waking up to find that it no longer fits as well as it did the day before. Don’t panic—we’ve seen this before, and can help. Here are a number of tips on what to do in that situation:

  • Visit your prosthetist: For new prosthesis users, you will likely have to visit your prosthetist regularly during the first few weeks or months to find a fit that makes you feel most comfortable. This may mean making appointments up to several times a week. Your limb is undergoing drastic changes, so naturally you’ll need many adjustments made to your prosthesis.

 

  • Be proactive: There are some motions that can cause a residual limb to change. Taking a hot shower, dangling your limb over the side of a bed or chair or neglecting your stretches can all cause it to change shape, thus affecting the prosthesis fit.

 

  • Experiencing weight loss or gain: Weight fluctuations can cause your limb to swell or decrease in size, causing your prosthesis to feel too tight or too loose. Make sure you consult with your prosthetist if you are experiencing any discomfort when wearing your prosthesis due to fluctuations in your weight.

 

  • Worn or damaged socket: Over time, the socket, or the piece of your prosthesis that connects your limb and prosthesis, can become worn, causing you to feel discomfort when moving. Consult with your prosthetist about replacing your socket if it has become damaged due to normal wear and tear.

 

Any time you experience unexplained discomfort when wearing your prosthesis, you risk causing further damage to your body and more pain. Schedule an appointment with Jonesboro today so you can enjoy all of the amazing benefits that your prosthesis has to offer.

Heroes, Gods and Kings: Amputees in Mythology

Posted on: April 19th, 2017 by JPO Blogger

Limb loss has long been a part of human history. Archeologists have discovered prostheses in Egyptian tombs, and Aztec statues depicting people missing one or more appendages have been unearthed. It’s no wonder, then, that amputees have made their way into mythology. A number of heroes and deities in the old stories were missing limbs, such as:

– Vishpla

An ancient poem in India references a mighty queen, Vishpla, who lost her leg in battle. The gods then gave her a leg of iron so that she could continue fighting. Thought to be 3200 years old, the poem makes the earliest reference in literature to a prosthesis. Sadly, since it is so old, we don’t have the full story of Vishpla—the author assumed all the readers would already be familiar with this myth!

– Nuada

Irish lore tells of a great king who came to the Emerald Isle to claim the land for his people. During the battle that ensued, Nuada lost his arm in combat to another great warrior, Sreng. As a result, Nuada wore a prosthesis made of silver and went by the nickname of “Airgetlám” which means “silver arm.” It was said he ruled Ireland for 20 years.

-Tyr

As a Viking god of war, Tyr’s missing hand was perhaps a nod to the limb loss soldiers experience on the battlefield. Norse mythology says Tyr lost his hand when he and the other gods were attempting to bind the evil, world-destroying wolf Fenrir. Additionally, one of our days of the week, Tuesday, was named after him, so our upper limb amputees can claim that day as theirs as well!

-Tezcatlipoca

The central deity of Aztec culture, Tezcatlipoca was said to have lost his foot while battling the Earth Monster. He was depicted wearing several different prostheses, including ones made of bone, obsidian and snakes. His twin brother, Xolotl, was thought to be the one who caused congenital limb loss, so children who were born missing limbs were considered special.

– Pelops

Greek hero Pelops lost his right shoulder as a result of an evil plot by his father, so he wore a prosthesis made of ivory. Legend claims that Pelops organized a big chariot race that later inspired the Olympic Games, which means the first Olympics were spearheaded by none other than a Paralympian.

 

From India to the Americas, amputees have found a place of reverence in mythology and stories—and no wonder! At Jonesboro Prosthetic & Orthotic Laboratory we’ve seen our patients display incredible strength and courage. While we can’t make you a prosthesis made of snakes or silver, we can certainly craft you a custom device that helps you realize your own inner hero.

3 Reasons Why Diabetes Causes Amputation, and What You Can Do About It

Posted on: April 5th, 2017 by JPO Blogger

Diabetes is the number one reason Americans undergo amputation. This disease can cause nerve damage, ulcers, infections and other foot-related ailments that can quickly worsen. Those who have experienced limb loss as a result of diabetes are often at risk of experiencing a second amputation as well.

Jonesboro Prosthetic & Orthotic Laboratory is here to help. We’re going to look at the top three reasons why diabetes causes amputation, and what you can do about it:

 

  • Damaged blood vessels and nerves.

 

If your blood sugar stays at high levels for too long, you run the risk of damaging blood vessels and nerves, especially in your extremities. This leads to decreased sensation, which means you may not notice at first if you get a cut, sore or a blister on your foot. Any one of those can then turn into an infection that isn’t able to heal properly. You can protect your feet by having one of our orthotists create custom orthotic shoes for you.

 

  • Decreased white blood cell effectiveness.

 

High levels of blood sugar not only lead to damaged nerves and blood vessels, they also lead to decreased effectiveness of white blood cells. This means your body will not be able to fight any infections that occur on your feet as well. By managing your blood sugar, you will decrease the likeliness that an infection is unable to heal.

 

  • Poor circulation.

 

The third thing that high blood sugar causes is poor circulation, which means less blood is getting to your extremities. This makes it easier for ulcers to develop, which when combined with your body’s decreased ability to fight infections, can lead to amputation. Staying consistent with your blood sugar management program can help you avoid amputation, as well as ceasing any bad habits such as smoking.

 

 

Jonesboro Prosthetic & Orthotic Laboratory wants to help our patients avoid additional amputation. Fortunately, when it comes to diabetes, proper blood sugar management and foot care can go far in prevention. See us today if you want us to make custom footwear to protect your lower limbs.